On 22nd June the Land For Wildlife program (run by Brisbane City Council) hosted a breakfast at our place to to promote a deeper knowledge of koalas and to showcase our bush revegetation efforts. 30 or more people attended on a foggy winter morning. Kristen, a ranger at the Daisy Hill Koala Centre brought along Elsa to demonstrate the characteristics and needs of koalas.
Elsa had been handed to wildlife carers when she was eight months old. A search for her mother was undertaken but she could not be located. She was found to be anemic as she had more than 20 ticks. She was nursed back to health and transferred to Moggill Koala Hospital. However when she was placed in the kindergarten for koalas she was not found to be independent enough to be returned to the wild.
So now she has a job as a roving koala ambassador.
I learned a number of new things about koalas. They have no fat on their bodies – hey, wouldn’t we all if we only ate eucalypt leaves! So if a person picks them up like a teddy bear this would cause bruising to their organs which are immediately beneath the skin. Not that we should pick them up at all even when they are injured in the middle of the road. They can bite or scratch with their sharp claws when they are injured or sick. Ring 1300ANIMAL for a koala ambulance or expert wildlife handler. Apparently there is a proper way for picking them up but this knowledge is reserved for experts!
Koalas don’t have an easy life – besides ticks there are other dangers – domestic dogs, traffic, land-clearing – not to mention a bacterium called Chlamydia which causes conjunctivitis (and can lead to blindness) and cystitis also known as ‘dirty tail’. In severe cases both diseases can lead to death.
There used to be more koalas in Moggill but it seems that their population has dwindled with the new housing developments at Bellbowrie. All the visitors to Moggill Haven were given a suitable gumtree to plant in the hopes of providing more native habitat for koalas – according to https://www.savethekoala there are only 18 types of gum that are koala food trees in the Brisbane region!
It would be wonderful if Moggill Pocket could become a refuge for koalas. However there would need to be an effort by the whole community – to actively keep their dogs tied up or inside at night and to provide corridors of bushland with mature gumtrees – not just fragmented bush or isolated remnant trees.
Although Elsa has STAR quality she is still quite shy – she placed herself behind the trunk of the fake tree prop in the hope that if she couldn’t see us maybe we weren’t there! And she was not entirely relaxed about being in the limelight and so did not lower her bottom onto the cleft in the tree branch as the next photo shows.
After this Peter and Tony (Land For Wildlife officers) conducted groups around the property to show them the height of the flood on the Brisbane River in 2011 ( See Land For Wildlife ) and how this caused devastation to the river banks. (See The 2011 Flood at Moggill ) Through LFW we were given 800 native plants to stabilise the river bank and the visitors were shown the marvellous growth which has occurred since then. (See Golly they’ve grown!) It was great to share the progress we’ve made with other people who appreciate the work of weeding, planting, watering and mulching – and how this leads to more wildlife.
Certainly after hearing the birds in the heavily-laden figtree many would also have gone home with another momento of an informative and enjoyable day – squashed figs on the undersoles of their shoes or figgy droppings on their hats!